'No. She didn't even laugh about it,' answered Charity.
'She's a terrible one to laugh, an't she?' said Jonas, lowering his voice.
'She is very lively,' said Cherry.
'Liveliness is a pleasant thing--when it don't lead to spending money. An't it?' asked Mr Jonas.
'Very much so, indeed,' said Cherry, with a demureness of manner that gave a very disinterested character to her assent.
'Such liveliness as yours I mean, you know,' observed Mr Jonas, as he nudged her with his elbow. 'I should have come to see you before, but I didn't know where you was. How quick you hurried off, that morning!'
'I was amenable to my papa's directions,' said Miss Charity.
'I wish he had given me his direction,' returned her cousin, 'and then I should have found you out before. Why, I shouldn't have found you even now, if I hadn't met him in the street this morning. What a sleek, sly chap he is! Just like a tomcat, an't he?'
'I must trouble you to have the goodness to speak more respectfully of my papa, Mr Jonas,' said Charity. 'I can't allow such a tone as that, even in jest.'
'Ecod, you may say what you like of MY father, then, and so I give you leave,' said Jonas. 'I think it's liquid aggravation that circulates through his veins, and not regular blood. How old should you think my father was, cousin?'
'Old, no doubt,' replied Miss Charity; 'but a fine old gentleman.'
'A fine old gentleman!' repeated Jonas, giving the crown of his hat an angry knock. 'Ah! It's time he was thinking of being drawn out a little finer too. Why, he's eighty!'
'Is he, indeed?' said the young lady.
'And ecod,' cried Jonas, 'now he's gone so far without giving in, I don't see much to prevent his being ninety; no, nor even a hundred. Why, a man with any feeling ought to be ashamed of being eighty, let alone more. Where's his religion, I should like to know, when he goes flying in the face of the Bible like that? Threescore-and- ten's the mark, and no man with a conscience, and a proper sense of what's expected of him, has any business to live longer.'
Is any one surprised at Mr Jonas making such a reference to such a book for such a purpose? Does any one doubt the old saw, that the Devil (being a layman) quotes Scripture for his own ends? If he will take the trouble to look about him, he may find a greater number of confirmations of the fact in the occurrences of any single day, than the steam-gun can discharge balls in a minute.
'But there's enough of my father,' said Jonas; 'it's of no use to go putting one's self out of the way by talking about HIM. I called to ask you to come and take a walk, cousin, and see some of the sights; and to come to our house afterwards, and have a bit of something. Pecksniff will most likely look in in the evening, he says, and bring you home. See, here's his writing; I made him put it down this morning when he told me he shouldn't be back before I came here; in case you wouldn't believe me. There's nothing like proof, is there? Ha, ha! I say--you'll bring the other one, you know!'
Miss Charity cast her eyes upon her father's autograph, which merely said--'Go, my children, with your cousin. Let there be union among us when it is possible;' and after enough of hesitation to impart a proper value to her consent, withdrew to prepare her sister and herself for the excursion. She soon returned, accompanied by Miss Mercy, who was by no means pleased to leave the brilliant triumphs of Todgers's for the society of Mr Jonas and his respected father.
'Aha!' cried Jonas. 'There you are, are you?'
'Yes, fright,' said Mercy, 'here I am; and I would much rather be anywhere else, I assure you.'
'You don't mean that,' cried Mr Jonas. 'You can't, you know. It isn't possible.'
'You can have what opinion you like, fright,' retorted Mercy. 'I am content to keep mine; and mine is that you are a very unpleasant, odious, disagreeable person.' Here she laughed heartily, and seemed to enjoy herself very much.
'Oh, you're a sharp gal!' said Mr Jonas.